Great night with GB's golden hockey heroes
PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:01 02 April 2017
Twigg, Webb and McCallin prove engaging guests
When you get the chance to spend time in the close company of an Olympic gold medalist you have to take it.
And listening to Great Britain hockey heroines Georgie Twigg, Hollie Webb and Shona McCallin reflect on their historic efforts in Rio at a Live Sport Talks event in St Katherine’s Dock, in the shadows of Tower Bridge, certainly lived up to expectations.
The women’s squad have become household names since their dramatic penalty shoot-out win over the Netherlands, which was watched by millions on prime-time BBC TV last summer, and were engaging guests, more than happy to share stories with their audience.
Prompted by host Charlie Rowe through the first half of the evening, Twigg, Webb and McCallin told tales of being starstruck in the Olympic village, by the likes of Rafa Nadal at breakfast and a shirtless Usain Bolt on his balcony, as well as giving fascinating insight into what went on behind the scenes in the GB Hockey programme to help them succeed in Brazil.
Twigg, a member of the bronze-medal winning squad at the London 2012 Games, revealed how all focus leading up to the Games had been on the opening game against Australia and how she thought she had broken her jaw during the semi-final against New Zealand, before returning to the action to help clinch victory.
Webb – who netted the gold medal-clinching penalty against the Dutch – explained how coach Danny Kerry had handpicked the five takers from a list of nine volunteers and that she didn’t expect to have to take hers, but had a process in place to help her keep calm, thanks to hours of practice at Bisham Abbey.
McCallin paid tribute to retired captain Kate Richardson-Walsh and the support staff who helped the players with vital mental preparation work, talking of how coaches had helped them find ways to think clearly under pressure, which reminded one of how the England Rugby World Cup winners in 2003 had spoken of a “TCUP” approach under Sir Clive Woodward.
The 24-year-old McCallin also said how happy the squad were to have attended a host of events and visited clubs and schools since their success to help keep hockey in the spotlight and spread the word even further.
And all three admitted life since Rio had been a bit “surreal” given their increased fame, but Webb said it was nice to be invited to ‘dressy’ functions, although she still liked time relaxing out of the limelight in her ‘trackies’.
Twigg, meanwhile, had come straight from her new office job, having put her international hockey career on hold to focus on the legal profession.
After a short break, the three Olympic champions took a range of questions from the floor and answered all of them happily, before posing for photos with their gold medals, with Twigg having earlier confessed to ‘breaking’ hers on the dancefloor in Rio!
And with that, they were off into the London night, with another day in the office/on the training pitch awaiting them the following morning.